SANTA CLARA -- Running back Marcus Lattimore won't be rushed back from a knee injury to play his rookie season, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told the NFL Network on Saturday about the team's fourth-round draft pick.

"We're not going to put him on the field until he's 100 percent, and that may not be this year," Harbaugh said.

Lattimore tore three ligaments in his right knee on Oct. 27 against Tennessee, ending his scintillating three-season career at South Carolina.

"We're really excited about him. He's a great person, a great talent," Harbaugh added. "I had a wonderful conversation with Marcus, also Marcus' mother, and told them that very same thing.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, right, introduces Eric Reid as the San Francisco 49ers announce their first round draft pick during a press conference at Niner
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, right, introduces Eric Reid as the San Francisco 49ers announce their first round draft pick during a press conference at Niner headquarters in Santa Clara Friday, April 26, 2013.(Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group) ( Patrick Tehan )

"He's a very unique person. You don't come across this person very often. There are a lot of good people out there, but I think Marcus is extremely unique."

Here is what else Harbaugh had to say in the NFL Network interview:

  • On trading up Thrusday for first-round draft pick Eric Reid: "He's definitely somebody who has the license to earn that spot, he has the talent to earn that spot. But the way we work things, it's a meritocracy here. Everything is based on merit, competition. We already have some fine safeties in our secondary and they'll compete for that job."

  • On strengthening the defense this draft: "(Reid) is well into the playbook. He's a bright young man, been an exceptional football player. We're extremely excited about him. Tank Carradine, great looking athlete, very productive. We've got some big guys, size speed, and big guys that play very physical. ... Quinton Dial, another big man that plays physical. That was our theme this year."

    FILE - This July 20, 2011 file photo shows South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore talking with reporters during Southeastern Conference football
    FILE - This July 20, 2011 file photo shows South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore talking with reporters during Southeastern Conference football media days in Hoover, Ala. The ex-South Carolina tailback will be in Atlanta with his representatives this week to find out when or if the one-time college star will get selected when the draft starts Thursday April 25, 2013 (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File) ( Dave Martin )

  • On tight end Vance McDonald, a second-round pick: "When Vance McDonald gets here, I'm going to try to get him in the No. 89. What I have come to know of 'Iron' Mike Ditka and the respect I have for him through the years, I can't wait for Coach Ditka to see Vance McDonald because I believe he's going to see some very good similarities.

  • On quarterback Colin Kaepernick's next steps: "He works extremely hard. He's very competitive. He's like a maniac when he competes. I love that aobut him. The steps he takes are day to day. But we have high expectations for young Colin Kaepernick. He's done a marvelous job this past season. Great expectations for him."